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Dean College Announces Michael J. Bobbitt as Commencement Speaker

Stephanie Hoyt, Dean College Communications Manager

photo of Michael J. Bobbitt
Photo: Craig Bailey.

Dean College is honored to announce that the keynote speaker at its 158th Commencement Ceremony on May 18, 2024 will be Michael J. Bobbitt, the Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council, who will also be receiving an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa. Additionally, Dean College will be presenting Former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia and Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations in Afghanistan, Peter W. Galbraith, with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

“This will be the second year in Dean College’s history to award honorary degrees to individuals who epitomize The Dean Difference, by caring for their community and making a positive impact in this world,” said President Kenneth Elmore. “We are so honored to bestow this distinction upon Mr. Bobbitt and Ambassador Galbraith, who have demonstrated a passionate commitment to the arts and public service throughout their illustrious careers.”

Bobbitt is a theater director, choreographer, and playwright who has dedicated his professional career to arts leadership. He joined Mass Cultural Council as Executive Director in February 2021, and is the highest-ranking cultural official in Massachusetts state government. Upon joining, he was invited to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). Bobbitt previously served as Artistic Director of the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown, MA; immediately prior to this, he held the same position at the Adventure Theatre-MTC in Maryland for 12 years.

Bobbitt’s management and arts management training includes participation in Executive Education at Harvard Kennedy School, the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program, and Cornell University’s Diversity and Inclusion Certification Program. In 2023, he completed YW Boston’s signature leadership program, LeadBoston. He has served as an Associate Professor of Theater at Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Howard University and served on the Board of Directors for the New England Foundation for the Arts. Also in 2023, Bobbitt received the prestigious Kennedy Center Gold Medallion in recognition of his commitment to the arts and educational theater. He has recently been appointed by Massachusetts Governor, Maura Healey, to serve on her Advisory Council on Black Empowerment and the newly formed Cultural Policy Development Advisory Council.

Bobbitt was recognized last year by Get Konnected! as one of Boston’s Most Influential Men of Color and was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre – one of the highest honors bestowed upon American theater professionals. He is also the recipient of MassOpera’s Action Bearing Award and OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center’s Sojourner Truth Award. He was recognized by Speak Out for his efforts to build a more inclusive cultural sector and as one of the Boston Business Journal’s 2023 Power 50 Movement Makers.

“I have dedicated my professional life to the arts, arts management, advancing equity, and celebrating community and culture,” said Bobbitt. “To be recognized in this manner by Dean College, a school known for its programs in the arts and dance, and to receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, is so humbling. It inspires me to work harder. I know that Dean dares its students to follow their passions, incorporate creativity in every aspect of life, and I am truly honored to have been chosen for this recognition.”

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